Chief Cathy Lanier hosts crime meeting on Kennedy St violence

Chief Cathy Lanier, Ward 4 Liaison Khalil Thompson, 4D Commander Wilfredo Manlapaz

I was invited to attend a crime briefing at MPD’s Joint Operations Command Center this morning with Chief Lanier, 4D leadership, Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue and about 20 other residents and various DC officials, including Councilmember-Elect Brandon Todd. The topic was recent crimes along the Kennedy Street corridor. ANC Commissioners in attendance included Ron Austin, (ANC 4B), Renee Bowser (ANC 4D), Joe Martin (ANC 4C) and David Sheon (ANC 4D).

Mr. Donahue opened the meeting and said the purpose was to keep communication with residents open, as MPD continues to look at ways to curb / prevent violence and conduct community outreach and engagement.  

Chief Lanier presented information and stats on some of the recent incidents in the Kennedy St area. MPD believes most of the recent crimes are conducted by or related to gang activities (against other gangs or internally), mainly the Kennedy Street Crew (you might have seen their tag “KDY” on various places) and a younger component of the gang, “T-Mob.” The Crittenden Street crew also plays a role, along with people from outside the district.

So far in 2015, there have been:

  • 2 homicides (1 gang member, 1 gang related)
  • 2 shootings (gang related)
  • 4 assaults (with a knife) (1 was gang related, 2 are closed cases)
  • 19 robberies (5 arrests). No robberies since April 30th. This number of 19 is higher than similar time last year.

Chief Lanier said that “most crimes are committed by a small number of people. When we arrest one, you tend to see the crime drop immediately, for a time.”

Chief Lanier presenting recent crime stats.

There were numerous assaults with a deadly weapon (ADWs), some gang related, a fair number not. Most were people fighting over the craziest things: debts owed, cigarettes, drugs, food, an unwanted comment to a woman, gambling disputes, etc. 

Chief Lanier mentioned that the March 12th shooting of Christopher Adams was related to the KDY gang (committed by a man with the fun moniker of “Spooks”). The recent shooting at Emory Rec Center started out as an argument over a woman, and quickly escalated to knives and then a gun. The victim was a 17 year old and was related to the KDY gang. Some of the people involved were from outside the district. MPD expects an arrest in this shooting. Lanier said that “an arrest is coming before long.” 

4D Commander Wilfredo Manlapaz then spoke about the uniform and gang unit actions in the area to deal with the violence. He mentioned that 80% of his officers in PSA 403 work the “power shift” time of 6pm to 5am (on bike, foot and car patrol). They try to offer mediation between the gangs, knock on doors of gang members and known associates and monitor jail chatter with the Department of Corrections. 

The Crime Suppression Team has issued 6 warrants, recovered 35 guns (8 BB guns) and partners with CSOSA (Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency) and DYRS (Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services) to try to provide opportunities to youth coming back to the community from jail.

MPD has conducted neighborhood walk-throughs with the Mayor’s MOCR team (Mayor’s Office of Community Relations) and DCRA to look at nuisance properties, and is working with the Office of the Attorney General on several, including two on the 900 block of Longfellow and the 800 block of Jefferson. 

“We’re throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at these issues,” Chief Lanier said “Involving all units and various government agencies to help with these gang issues.”

A resident asked how the Kennedy Street Crew got their name, and Chief Lanier said they named themselves. She added that MPD works to identify active gang members in order to understand who is involved, and who is not. 

Chief Lanier responding to a question; Assistant Chief Lamar Greene.

Chief Lanier responding to a question; Assistant Chief Lamar Greene.

Chief Lanier also spoke about the need for community involvement, particularly faith-based organizations that can reach parents and kids when MPD can’t due to trust issues. “Faith-based organizations have a good opportunity to discuss with parents and kids in church, to talk with teens and early 20-year olds.”

She added that she hoped the churches in the area encourages family members to reach out to churches and leadership for intervention and help. “So many times I’ve heard the parents say, after the fact, ‘I wish I had done something about this…’ This is where church leaders can help, by reaching out to those parents and aiding them.”

Assistant Chief Lamar Greene said that “parents need to be involved with social media and see what their kids are posting, tweeting, and so on.”

“We’re trying to get away from arrest, arrest, arrest,” said Chief Lanier. “We want to divert issues to other agencies where possible.”

Another resident talked about what looks like an open air drug market on the 500 block of Crittenden, in a garage in an alley. “People come by all day, stand around and someone comes out, then the people leave.” Someone recently shot at the garage door, mentioned Assistant Chief Groomes. “We want to know who they’re shooting at,” she said.

There was a longer discussion about vacant and blighted property along / around Kennedy Street (two representatives of the Kennedy Street Development Association attending the meeting). Assistant Chief Groomes said that residents need to call the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and file community impact statements about nuisance and blighted properties. “They listen to MPD, but they react quicker to residents on this issue,” she said. 

“We can make an arrest,” said Chief Lanier, “But the OAG needs to deal with nuisance properties. They’re key to a permanent resolution of that problem.”

Commissioner Renee Bowser asked about programs for people involved in the criminal activities. Chief Lanier talked about programs for job training, GED assistance and other services. “When the family is involved, we see better participation, “ she said. “But some of the people don’t want the services.”

Chief Lanier wrapped up the meeting by reviewing what was discussed, and said MPD is doing a “full court press” and is focused on Kennedy Street issues. She said most of the issues are related to a small group of people, and that’s who MPD is working to deal with.

Hopefully these types of meetings will continue, and if invited, I will share with neighbors.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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